A few simple tips will help you avoid having to spend the night before your big performance re-gluing Swarovskis back onto your bodice. So read on to learn the secrets of successfully rinsed rink-wear!
Hand Wash, Machine Spin
These two steps are going to allow you to keep all your outfit's embellishments while not having to battle with 5-day-long drip-drying times. Most likely your outfit is made out of a variety of different fabrics melded into one snazzy affair. If you've got anything heavy in your costume, such as velvets, doubled lace backed with Lycra, or Tactel, drying times are going to be a little longer.
Using a slow to medium spin on your washer will spin out more water than you could by ringing the garment by hand (not to mention the ringing-twisting action can damage heavy bead-work or stoning), but beware, using a high-speed spin programme may stretch your clothing in ways you wish it hadn't.
With regard to the hand-washing process, I suggest you buy a delicate laundry detergent, the kind which are usually marketed for wools, cashmere, or lingerie. Don't over-do it on the amount you add, or you'll end up rinsing for an hour. The last thing you want is to not thoroughly rinse your outfit, or itching will occur during that all-important event! A big no-no!
Buy yourself a new plastic basin from a cheap shop such as PoundLand in the UK, or the Dollar Store in the US of A. Keep this as your skating garment cleaning vessel to avoid any other chemicals being used which may, in the future, cause your dress/shirt/trousers harm (such as strong cleaning products or bleaches). Use warm water and soak your dress in the detergent before gently working the fabric through the soapy water.
When it comes time to rinse, I usually use a shower head set to a tepid temperature and hold my garment over one arm as I pulse it with the shower water. You'll see the soap stream out of it as you do this. Continue until water runs clear, with no bubbles. Now you're ready to spin.
Drying Without Distortion
The rule's quite simple: if your garment's shoulders are made of a fragile/fine material, such as body-stocking or stretch net, then don't hang it up to dry. The weight of the wet, albeit spun, fabric will pull on these delicate areas causing them to bag out, which won't look good on once dry! If however, your dress or tunic has a solid fabric shoulder, or straps, then hang away! I would hang mine in a room which didn't have any particular odours associated with it, so no kitchen, and no bathroom.
If your garment is too fragile to be hung dry, then laying it flat will do the trick just fine. Choose a large towel which is bigger than the entire garment when lying flat, and place it in a room it won't be trodden on. Then place your outfit atop the towel, which will absorb moisture as it dries. Perfect!
You should follow the same steps as are mentioned above for delicate items: hand washing and machine spinning are the way to go! If stubborn dark stains are a problem, you might consider soaking them in detergent overnight, then washing and rinsing through as normal the next day.
Practice Outfits & Tights
Personally I only ever wore leggings and sports tops or t-shirts during training, but there are many skaters who regularly wear practice dresses, or other non-"standard-sports" items that need to be laundered. These are usually made out of heavier fabrics such as Lycra, thick cottons, or velvet, and can withstand a machine wash at low temperatures just fine.
To make sure no zippers catch in the drum or other mishaps, place your garments into a laundry net bag, or an old pillowcase you don't use anymore. The pillowcase will also catch any stray stones or beading you may have on your practice wear.
Practice tights are also usually quite a bit heavier than those worn to events, and they can go in the wash too. If you or your skater wears the over-the-boot type however, beware the hooks-and-eyes catching in the drum. Place them in the pillowcase to be safe.
... And That's It!
You are now ready to let your fresh linen smell waft up the judges nostrils as you whiz past the panel! Hoorah!
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